'Blood, sweat and tears' not enough for beaten Barca

Barcelona's Lionel Messi lands on the pitch after being challenged by Juventus's Miralem Pjanic. Photo:Courtesy

Lionel Messi ended with a bloodied face, Neymar in tears, but no matter what they tried Barcelona couldn't break down a Juventus defensive wall as the Spanish champions crashed out of the Champions League.

Wednesday night's 0-0 draw wasn't the cause of their demise, but an error-strewn 3-0 first leg defeat that left even Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez too much to do against the team with the best defensive record left in the Champions League.

"A goodbye with pride," ran the headline in both Barcelona sport dailies Mundo Deportivo and Sport.

The hosts were even handed a rousing reception by the near 100,000 fans at the Camp Nou, but there is little time for Barca to lick their wounds as Sunday's El Clasico at La Liga leaders Real Madrid offers a final chance to save their season.

"There was blood, sweat and tears and the Barca fans recognised that with a standing ovation," said Sport.

"The Clasico arrives as a final chance to lift a season undermined by inconsistency."

Even a victory at the home of their eternal rivals might not be enough for Barca to win a third straight league title.

Madrid lead the league by three points and also have a game in hand to come.

However, winning at the Santiago Bernabeu would ramp up the pressure on Zinedine Zidane's men and at the very least offer some joy in a season short on things to shout about.

"We have the chance to put ourselves in the fight for La Liga," said coach Luis Enrique after overseeing his last Champions League game in charge before stepping down at the end of the season.

"I feel happy to be able to work in a club that always wants to win everything. It is not a good night and it is not a good moment for Barca fans, but we will fight until the end."

Without the suspended Neymar on Sunday, Barca will need Messi and Suarez to recover their killer instinct. Of Barca's 17 shots on Wednesday, only one was on target and that came from defender Javier Mascherano.

"Impotent against a wall," said Madrid sports daily AS.

"The shots on target are the ones that count," conceded Enrique.

Emotions ahead of the Clasico couldn't be more contrasting for Spain's two powerhouses.

Whilst Barca have failed to make it beyond the Champions League quarters for two successive seasons for a first time in a decade, Madrid booked their place in a seventh straight semi-final thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick in a thrilling 6-3 aggregate win over Bayern Munich.

Real have always considered themselves the kings of Europe thanks to their 11 European Cups. However, now they seek to end Barca's recent rule of domestic matters in Spain with just a second league title in eight seasons.

Messi and Barca captain Andres Iniesta have been two of the mainstays to Barca's decade of dominance.

A bruised Messi will pick himself up to go again at the Bernabeu in search of his 500th Barcelona goal. And Iniesta insisted the Catalans aren't yet a spent force.

"It is disappointing to be eliminated from the Champions League, but being able to win La Liga depends on winning at the Bernabeu and that is our intention."

Next Story
LATEST STORIES
African Nations Cup to be moved to June/July from 2019

The African Nations Cup will move from January to June and July from its next staging in Cameroon in 2019, and be expanded from 16 to 24 teams, the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decided on Thursday.

Neymar stirs renewed PSG fever

Neymar's decision to post a photo of himself in thoughtful contemplation sparked a fresh wave of speculation that he is on the verge of sealing a world record 222-million-euro ($256.8 million) move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.

Conte confirms Diego Costa has no future at Chelsea

Chelsea striker Diego Costa was told in January that he would not feature in the Premier League club's plans for the upcoming season, manager Antonio Conte said on Friday.

Barcelona manager Valverde quashes Neymar 'rumours'

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde, who will lead the club for the first time in Saturday's pre-season match against Juventus, has dismissed speculation linking Neymar with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Continental tournament also moved to June from February

Kenya started the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on the wrong footing after losing 2-1 to Sierra Leone, but the country now has a realistic chance of playing in the competition following an increase in the number of qualifying teams to 24.

More Stories
African Nations Cup to be moved to June/July from 2019

The African Nations Cup will move from January to June and July from its next staging in Cameroon in 2019, and be expanded from 16 to 24 teams, the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decided on Thursday.

Neymar stirs renewed PSG fever

Neymar's decision to post a photo of himself in thoughtful contemplation sparked a fresh wave of speculation that he is on the verge of sealing a world record 222-million-euro ($256.8 million) move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.

Conte confirms Diego Costa has no future at Chelsea

Chelsea striker Diego Costa was told in January that he would not feature in the Premier League club's plans for the upcoming season, manager Antonio Conte said on Friday.

Barcelona manager Valverde quashes Neymar 'rumours'

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde, who will lead the club for the first time in Saturday's pre-season match against Juventus, has dismissed speculation linking Neymar with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Continental tournament also moved to June from February

Kenya started the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on the wrong footing after losing 2-1 to Sierra Leone, but the country now has a realistic chance of playing in the competition following an increase in the number of qualifying teams to 24.

Stern test for All Stars in Spain: LaLiga Tour Select team wind up tour against Seville Atletico

Kenyan Premier League select team face Sevilla reserve team today.

Tour of LaLiga: SportPesa invite Malaga coaches to train All Stars

Malaga CF youth development coach Diego Vera Ideota has described the Kenya Premier League All Star players as “coachable” after a training session at La Cala Golf Resort.

Manchester City are facing a transfer ban

Manchester City are facing the threat of a transfer ban over their pursuit of French sensation Kylian Mbappe.

Arsenal and Mesut Ozil closing in on a new contract

Arsenal are increasingly hopeful they will be able to reach agreement on a new contract with Mesut Ozil.